There are two types of content creation: proactive and reactive.
Proactive content includes all outbound engagement and the sharing and distribution of brand-related messages on corporate blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other owned media properties. Proactive content can also include product or company related announcements, industry perspectives, contest management, and other promotions.
For proactive content to be relevant and impactful, it's important to have a content strategy. The first step in creating a content strategy is to listen to the external nature of the conversation using social-media listening platforms. It also includes listening internally to product organizations, marketing, and PR, as well as understanding the product road map, upcoming events, and announcements that might be relevant to the community.
The second step involves planning. The findings from listening both externally and internally will help to craft a content calendar that will encompass each of the company's owned media properties mentioned above. Some companies create weekly or bi-weekly editorial calendars. However, it's good practice to also maintain a six-month “thematic” calendar that will document and include upcoming events, holidays, and product launches.
The third step is the actual content creation. This can include writing blog posts with corresponding tweets and Facebook status updates. It may also include creating video content, tutorials, and other programming ideas.
The fourth step is the actual execution of the editorial calendar. The engagement can include informing and connecting with community members, responding to comments and tweets, answering questions, providing context to and around a topic, and collaborating or co-creating content with the community.
The last step in the content strategy is to measure the effectiveness of the engagement. It's important to understand which type of content drives the most engagement in terms of retweets, comments, likes, shares, page views, and impressions. With insights into real-time analytics, companies can create content that the community finds to be most relevant. This will deepen community engagement and increase the reach of branded messages.
Reactive content also happens as a result of listening to conversations on the social Web and responding in relevant terms and in real-time. It can certainly include responding to comments on corporate blogs, Twitter, and Facebook but can also include leaving comments on third-party blog posts. Usually, reactive content deals with customer-support issues, crisis communications, responding to critical comments, and correcting faulty information.
It's important for companies to have a crisis communication plan and be prepared to act quickly if they have to. In this situation, it's imperative to be proactive instead of being reactive, because time will be of essence. If a company is not prepared to act in a timely fashion, a potential crisis may only get worse.
Michael Brito is an SVP, social business planning at Edelman Digital. Follow him on Twitter.